LIVERMORE FALLS — Veteran Jim Cyr is thankful to be alive and for everything he has.

Cyr, 50, is 80 percent disabled. He lives off the grid in a yurt and has been struggling to build a house since 2010. But injuries, a lack of money and other issues have made it difficult.

Cyr was with the 113th Aviation Brigade in Nevada when he was wounded Dec. 4, 2005, after the Chinook helicopter he was a flight engineer on was shot down by enemy fire in Afghanistan. Before crashing, the helicopter caught fire. He received numerous injuries from the hard landing, including his shoulder and neck, he said.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1984 to 1988. He graduated in 1984 from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, and began his service in Korea loading A-10 warthogs and then went to Washington to load nuclear bombs on B-12 aircraft. He changed military branches, joined the U.S. Army, and served from 1988 to 1992. He was a crew chief on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and then a door-gunner, he said. He joined the Aviation Brigade in 2004 and served until 2009.

Years later, the pain of his injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder still lingers.

Even before he deployed, Cyr said, he had always planned to come back and build on property that has been in his family for a long time.


Cyr, a Purple Heart recipient, has lived on the land first in his brother’s camper and then in a very small cabin before the yurt was built. Now, it serves as his outhouse with a composting toilet. He uses solar panels attached to batteries, a generator and oil lamps to provide electricity and lighting. He has an old-fashioned icebox to keep his food cold, though it doesn’t work in the summer. A wood stove in the yurt helps keep Cyr and his two dogs, Joey and Five, warm.

The yurt is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, Cyr said.

“It’s not bad given my financial situation,” he said. “There is always something broke. I guess when it rains it pours.”

His new home, if he receives help to build it, will have power, running water and a septic system. He has a partial cement block foundation that needs to be finished. He would be happy just to get the center foundation done for now, he said. But again, another injury set him off track when he broke his elbow and needed surgery.

Cyr said he is very thankful for his girlfriend, Kristina Martin of New Hampshire, who “treats him like a king.” She set up a fundraising page at to try and help him raise money to build his house.

He is hoping to get funds to do the electrical work. He needs about $8,000 so he can move out of the yurt and into something with running water and electricity.


Cyr enrolled in 2011 at the University of Maine at Farmington and studies geology. In the past, he has worked in gold mines. He hoped to graduate this year, but that too will be delayed.

Everything is taking longer than anticipated, he said. “It takes a long time to do everything by hand,” Cyr said.

His body aches but he refuses to take narcotics to ease the pain, he said. He tries to relieve it holistically. He has trouble sleeping and suffers from PTSD.

“I have good days and bad days,” he said. “If I don’t move I’m hurting. If I am moving, I am hurting so I just plug away at things. I am not defeated by all means. This will get done no matter what, but it will take longer than I want. I’m not going to give up on it.”

go to to watch Jim Cyr talk about living in a yurt year-round.